Monday, May 09, 2005

Europeans Go After Google

With over 50 percent of the market share, Google is now the most used search engine on the net and is increasingly the place to satisfy the rest of your net needs: news, maps, mail, and even blogs are now hosted through the Google "portal." Last year, Google announced plans to digitize and put online the library collections of Stanford, U. Michigan, Harvard, Oxford and the NY Public Library. As profits soar and capabilities grow, Google looks unstoppable.

Europe, ever wary of the American culture flood, is worried. Google Print raises questions of culture: integrity, history, and destiny. What is the future of the Western intellectual heritage if online libraries lie in the hands of Google? Jean-Noel Jeanneney, cheif librarian of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, cautions that Google Print will anglicize the world's knowledge, calling for a French digitization effort in response. Chirac has given the green light. Last week, nineteen national libraries moved to form a massive pan-European digital library to counter the Google-powered American hegemony. Then, a couple of days ago, EU culture ministers and hundreds of artists and intellectuals met in Paris to close the deal and issue a continent-wide directive to preserve cultural heritage, starting with digitization.

This may indeed turn out a valuable project, being a civic effort where Google Print is largely a commercial one. The Europeans might bring full electronic editions instead of searchable scans - annotated, structured, and employing other scholarly resources. I hope.

Anyways, there'll be tons more information online. And that's cool.


Post a Comment

<< Home